BookPage recommended this book a few months ago, either in the Pride issue or shortly before. Either way, I read this thriller based on their recommendation.
This book is wild. Oliver has what seems to be an idyllic life in the Washington, D.C. area. He’s married to a doctor, he lives in amazing landmark of a home – things are going pretty well. However, this is a thriller, so of course things aren’t really going that well. Oliver is bored in his perfect life, so to find some adventure he visits a hookup establishment in the middle of nowhere, the titular Bath Haus. What seems like a fun hookup with a Skarsgård clone turns out to be a nightmare without an end. His hookup becomes a stalker. He has to figure out how to stay safe while also keeping his idyllic life intact. If he pushes back too hard, his husband will find out and wonder what’s going on. If he doesn’t push back hard enough…the consequences could be dire for him and his family.
Writer P.J. Vernon puts the literary camera behind Oliver’s shoulder as we watch him try to manage this rapidly deteriorating situation. Along the way, we discover that Oliver isn’t quite the passive house spouse he initially seems to be; his pre-dream life may have equipped him to escape his situation. We also learn (as we have in all suburban thrillers of the last 15 years) that maybe things weren’t so dreamy at home, after all.
This would make a heck of a movie. In fact, it reminds me of the sexual thriller movies of the 90s. You know, the ones most likely starring either Diane Lane or Michael Douglas.
Something of a trigger warning – there are some pretty intense assault scenes. I dinged it a bit for that because I was confused by the sudden tone shifts and they were sort of jarring even though I haven’t experienced assault. Otherwise it was an easy 4 stars just based on the great tension Vernon brings.